Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today’s Headlines and Commentary

By Raffaela Wakeman
Thursday, February 21, 2013, 12:37 PM

As Steve mentioned yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee is holding a hearing on the legal rationale for targeted killing next Wednesday. We should have more details---including a witness list---shortly.

Lots of reaction to the Mandiant report on cyber attacks by the Chinese on U.S. entities: First, the White House has come out saying that it will take trade and diplomatic action on countries that fail to curtail cyber attacks pursued for corporate espionage purposes, as The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Hill, Agence France Presse all report. And The Hill adds that cybersecurity experts are telling members of Congress and their staff to be more careful as well.

The Washington Post reported that “most” Washington institutions have been hacked, including corporations, law firms, think tanks, media, and of course, government entities.  Nicole Perlroth of the Times reports more generally on the cyber attack victims’ disclosures.  Meanwhile, Scott Neumann of NPR mulls possible U.S. responses to cyber attacks. It’s not just about U.S. vulnerabilities, you know. Our northern neighbors also are home to at least seven of the victims detailed in Mandiant’s report; The Ottawa Citizen’s Matthew Braga informs on what experts in Canada are saying about the report’s conclusions.  And Apple computers have been subject to a cyberbreach---but not because an enemy exploited the computer giant's technical weaknesses.  Catherine Dunn of Corporate Counsel tells us instead that employees may be a company’s most significant vulnerability, cyber-wise.

Over at the AP---and, in a delicious twist, courtesy of The China Post---Anne Flaherty provides some more details on Mandiant itself. Methinks the hackers will have a tougher time cracking its systems than they had with, say, all those think tanks. For good measure, here’s another AP story on Mandiant, and another about Unit 61398 of the People’s Liberation Army, which reportedly is responsible for attacks described in Mandiant's work.

From the Department of Duh, this: Mandiant’s paper makes it all the more clear that Congress needs to pass some kind of cybersecurity bill, as many top White House officials and members of Congress have said. Here’s Brendan Sasso’s story in The Hill with the story.

Cybersecurity isn't just a matter of federal concern.  There’s work in the states as well. The Kentucky State Auditor is going to undertake a closer review of the cybersecurity of Kentucky government agencies.  Here’s the AP story on that announcement.

And Sandia National Laboratories has launched a new center focused on developing offensive and defensive techniques to protect cyber systems, reports NextGov.

On a separate (but related) topic, John Hamre, a former Deputy Secretary of Defense and chairman of the Defense Policy Board, opines in The Washington Post about how budget cuts could actually improve our security—the security clearance process, that is.

Matthew Kaminski interviews ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ producer Mark Boal in The Wall Street Journal.  Handy stuff, as we draw closer to Oscar night.

In a fascinating twist, the White House is withholding the additional Office of Legal Counsel ("OLC") memos from Democratic Senators, while simultaneously working with Republicans to get them more information about the Benghazi attacks. Here’s the story by Scott Shane and Mark Mazetti of The New York Times.

Responding to The New York Times Valentine’s Day editorial on a possible targeted killing court, the ACLU’s Hina Shamsi and Christopher Anders go on record against the proposal.  Instead, they urge the White House to release the OLC memos to the public. Here’s their letter.

Neal Katyal, Georgetown Law Professor and former Solicitor General, has this op-ed in the Times.  It calls a targeted killing court a “mistake.” As an alternative, Katyal proposes a more general “national security court” within the executive branch.

This week, former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright defended drone strikes, but also said there should be a public debate on the use of drones. Here’s the Politico story on that, and the video here:

Senator Lindsey Graham has counted the number of deaths-by-UAV himself, concluding that 4,700 people have been killed in drone strikes since 2007. Never mind those DOD or CIA numbers, says Graham’s spokesman.  Carlo Munoz of The Hill has this report.

Unsurprisingly, the unmanned aerial vehicle industry worries a bit about public perception these days. The Huffington Post has a story on remarks by industry figures at an event last week (and includes commentary by Brookings senior fellow Peter Singer).

Over in Arizona, a State House Committee approved a bill that requires police to get a warrant before using a UAV to collect evidence. Here’s an Arizona Daily Star story on the bill’s progress.

And SecDef Watch 2013 continues.  New York Senator Chuck Schumer yesterday revealed details about his lengthy vetting meeting with Chuck Hagel, particularly Hagel’s reaction to critics’ comments about his alleged views on Israel. Here’s the Journal, and Politico, too.

Carlo Munoz tells us that the DOD’s new intelligence agency, the Defense Clandestine Service, is operational.

Laura Pitter of Human Rights Watch has this lengthy piece in Foreign Policy about the 9/11 case.  She discusses: the revelation that a third party has the ability to mute the audio during hearings; the type of materials that considered contraband at the detention facility; and the ongoing debate over whether the attorney-client privilege is being or has been violated.

Hey, there’s been a new appointment to the FISA Court: Judge Claire Egan of the Northern District of Oklahoma. She replaces the recently-retired Judge Jennifer Coffman. Another new member’s designation is imminent, says Secrecy News.

Two Iraqis living in Kentucky have been sentenced for providing (apparently) material support to terrorists. One was sentenced to forty years in prison, and the other received a life sentence. Here’s the CNN story on the sentencing.

Looks like the next likely candidate for EUCOM may be Air Force General Philip Breedlove, currently commander of Air Force units in Europe and Afghanistan. Here’s Thom Shanker of the Times with that report.

For more interesting law and security-related articles, follow us on Twitter and check out the Lawfare News Feed, visit the Georgetown Center on National Security and the Law’s Security Law Brief, Syracuse’s Institute for National Security & Counterterrorism’s newsroll, and Fordham Law’s Center on National Security’s Morning Brief and Cyber Brief. Email Raffaela Wakeman and Ritika Singh noteworthy articles to include, visit the Lawfare Events Calendar for upcoming national security events, and check out relevant job openings at the Lawfare Job Board.